What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a complete and holistic medical system with a history of more than 3000 years, and is one of the main branches of Oriental Medicine.
It involves the insertion of fine, flexible, hair-like needles onto specific points of the body to promote natural healing, strengthen immunity, eliminate pain, and restore physical and emotional health.
As one of the oldest continually practiced medical systems, acupuncture has stood the test of time with its vast knowledge of effectively treating many illnesses ranging from everyday to complex.
How does it work?
In Eastern Medicine terms:
Acupuncture works by unblocking and promoting the energetic flow called Qi (pronounced "chee”) of the body through a network called "meridians," similar to the systems of nerves and blood vessels. The entire body's vitality and functions depend on this energetic network. Pain or illnesses are formed from the blockage or lack of flow, like a dam blocking a stream watering the trees.
Each meridian is connected to a specific organ, and the pathways are mapped onto the body at specific acupuncture points. These points are like relay stations that regulate the network. When needled, they activate the communication and restore the Qi flow of the meridians.
In Western Medicine terms:
Western Medicine has yet to fully understand how acupuncture works, mainly due to the differences in medical structure and holistic philosophy.
With research, popular theories such as the Autonomic Nervous System Theory, Gate-Control Theory, and Blood Chemistry Theory have emerged. These systems are thought to be activated when specific points are needled, resulting in pain relief and improved immunity response.
The specific points have also been shown to have lower electrical resistance than non-acupuncture points. The latest research has identified the meridians' physical structure as micro-tubular networks called Bonghan Channels, rich in DNA fragments, stem cells, and hyaluronic acid. They are theorized to carry a high volume of information versus the limited one-way signals of the nervous system.
What is Qi?
Qi is the fundamental energy that makes everything exist and function. When it comes to health, Qi is the equivalence of biological electricity that circulates, activates, and balances the overall functioning of our bodies.
The abundance of Qi, or lack thereof, as well as the quality of flow, determines our physical and emotional well-being. Qi flows on pathways called "the meridians." Through thousands of years of experiments, the meridians have been accurately mapped. There are more than 360 acupuncture points where Qi can be accessed and activated.
How safe is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is very safe and minimally invasive. Your acupuncturist has been trained extensively for the safe handling of the needle. Ensure your acupuncturist is licensed, has been trained in a nationally accredited school by NCCAOM, with at least 2800 hours, and has a diploma in Oriental Medicine.
Is acupuncture effective and safe for kids?
Yes, acupuncture can be very safe and effective for kids. The general age range for acupuncture is six years old on. If younger than six, then acupressure (noninvasive) can be used to obtain similar results.
Young children's constitution is very responsive to treatment due to a lack of complexity and faster energy flow. This typically results in a quick response to treatment and them getting well quickly.
What are other treatment therapies in Oriental Medicine besides acupuncture?
The other therapies include:
● Herbal therapy:
Your acupuncturist may prescribe you herbal medicines, either in the form of pills, tea granules, or loose herbs, to help maximize your results. Chronic conditions will often benefit from herbal therapy.
● Diet therapy:
Diet is essential and often the core of your well-being. A popular saying in Chinese medicines states, "Most diseases start from the mouth." Your acupuncturist will provide nutritional guidelines to help you get the maximum and long-lasting results.
This is therapeutic bodywork that your acupuncturist may perform to help release tension, correct musculoskeletal imbalances, improve circulation, and complement acupuncture sessions to provide maximum relief.
This manual therapy uses a tool with a blunt edge and stroke along some regions of the body to release tension, break up knots, and improve immune function. Gua-sha can be a treatment of its own or can be combined with acupuncture.
This is a manual therapy of adding heat or fire to a glass cup, "fire cupping," which creates a suction or vacuum effect when cool and placed on the affected area. This suction "pulls" up layers of muscle and tissue, which helps to release tension, improve blood flow, loosen fibrous adhesions, and improve immune function.
● Moxibustion: This is the burning of an herb (mugwort) close to an affected body area, generally used to treat pain, especially if the pain gets worse with cold or damp, rainy weather. It is used in stick form and may be sent home for patients to use independently.